Having four days off in between games allows the mind the wander. Fans of the Lakers are looking at the Spurs and Suns and wondering who the best match up for the conference finals is. We’re examining the eastern bracket and wondering if Boston can get by Cleveland and if anyone can get by Orlando. Thoughts drift to a rematch of last years Finals or revenge for 2008 or a Kobe/Lebron match up that would have media falling over each other grabbing for the best storyline. But that’s putting the cart before the horse, isn’t it?
The fact is the Lakers are still playing the Jazz. And despite two pretty comfortable wins, sitting up 2-0 isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. If you need proof of that, go back a couple of weeks and look at games 3 and 4 of the Thunder series. Momentum can change jerseys rather quickly in this game, especially when you change venues and play the contests in a pretty hostile environment.
So, in an attempt to bring back our focus on the team from Utah, I thought I’d take a closer look at ways the Jazz can pull out a win in game 3. I mean, this is a must win for the Jazz (going down 3-0 is not an option) and coming back home you’d think this is their best chance to win a game and get back in this series. So why not shift our focus off what the Lakers need to do (since we’ve been covering that extensively and have the results of games 1 & 2 as templates) and move on to what the Jazz can do to take down the Lakers?
1). Get Deron Williams going. The one advantage the Jazz have in this series is Williams. He is a monster. However, in the first two games he’s been cumulatively average. He had a pretty good game 1 and a below average game 2. If the Jazz hope to win game 3, they need the Deron Williams from the Nuggets series. The guy that put up 33 and 14 in game 2 in Denver. The player that had 34 and 10 in game 5. Because without that type of effort, I’m unsure as to whether or not the Jazz can win a game. And yes, Williams has already admitted that the Lakers’ D is much tougher than Denver’s. But, he can’t concern himself with such matters. He needs to be in attack mode for the entire game and keep pushing the ball down the Lakers throats for every second he’s on the court. Plus, I think he needs to be a bit more selfish. Playing for Jerry Sloan has undoubtedly helped Deron’s career as the discipline and demanding nature of the coach can be a great thing for PG’s. However, sometimes I feel that Deron is too focused on doing the right thing; looking too much to get everyone involved. This is one series where if Deron decided he needed to go all “2006 Kobe”, I think he’d be justified. His big men, while putting up numbers, are overmatched in the paint and his wings are decent role players. In this series, Williams is the engine for success and he needs to start playing like it. He should be calling his number more often by running more P&R’s and isolating himself more at the top of the key. As I said before, he’s the one with the advantage this series. It’s up to him if the Jazz are going to survive.
2). Play more physical. I know that Phil Jackson has talked about the Jazz being aggressive going after the ball. In a timeout he called them “strippers and hackers” that were trying to get steals every time the Lakers exposed the ball. That said, where’s the trademarked Jazz pushing and shoving? Where are the hard fouls that make the Lakers question going into the paint? Obviously, being a Lakers fan, I don’t want to see dirty play take out one of the guys that I root for, but from the Jazz perspective the absence of one of their calling cards is a bit problematic. In the last game, Pau Gasol got in Boozer’s face and told him to “watch it”. Huh? Is this the bizzaro NBA? As has been repeated by everyone writing about this series, the Utah players aren’t going to get taller before the next game. So, if the Jazz hope to take control of the basket area they need to try something. Playing with some force would be the best place to start. I mean, how many times can the Jazz big men not step up in their rotations? I know Jerry Sloan rarely looks happy, but his team’s defensive effort in this series must be making him furious.
3). Just believe you can win. This has nothing to do with X’s and O’s or anything that you can “execute” on the court. But right now, it looks obvious that the Jazz don’t think they can actually beat the Lakers in this series. 15 straight losses at Staples surely has something to do with it. Losing the regular season series for the past 3 seasons and being eliminated from the playoffs in the past 2 doesn’t help either. But at this point, if the Jazz aren’t going to believe, they might as well just quit already. They need to change their body language and act like they know they’re a good enough team to win. I mean, did you see the frustration and defeated look on Boozer’s face after he was blocked on consecutive shot attempts by LO and Gasol?
Look, I’d be a happy guy if the Jazz didn’t do any of these things and resigned themselves to losing. I want the Lakers to win and for this series to be over as quickly as possible so the nicked up Lakers get as much rest as possible in between this series and the next. That said, if Utah is going to win, these are the keys for them, in my opinion. Getting Kirilenko back will help. Playing at home will help. But those things will only go so far. I know that most Lakers fans are confident about this series, but what do you think? How can the Jazz win some games in this series?
michael zarabi says
They can definitely win …..
One game …..
If they get lucky …..
And we play bad
Let’s not get too crazy now. It was only a few days ago when we were hanging on to the cliche, “It’s not a series until someone loses on their home court” in defense of what OKC did to us in games 3 and 4.
We did what we’re supposed to do in games 1 and 2. Let’s not bury the Jazz yet, they’re still a very skilled and capable team.
With that said, they are really missing Okur and Harpring.
The jazz will be able to win a game this series if they swap jerseys with the lakers.
Im confident that we will see a Deron Williams explotion in the next game… not sure about the outcome, but its a challenge the Lakers will have to face soon.
I’m really not sure what to make of Kirilenko’s return. It could be a boost for the Jazz with a smattering of some much needed defensive intensity or a complete bust given chemistry/how slow most players are to successfully reintegrate after an injury/how out of shape a player is after an injury.
Are we there yet? How much longer?
Only 26 more hours, exhelodrvr. Only 26.
Craig W. says
I think Kirilenko does make a difference defensively. Where this will help is that the Jazz can start out the game ahead and stand a chance of staying ahead because AK47 will get them some blocks against Artest and give D. Williams the chance for pushing the ball. With Artest, it isn’t so much about his offense, so AK47 can practice scrapping off the rust and go for steals without a lot of downside. He also allows them to compete better on the boards. Then he leaves when Andrew gets traded out for LO and Utah would now have one of their starters coming in against LO — much stronger situation.
One thing I’ve found strange is that Jerry Sloan hasn’t made any defensive adjustments in 3 years against the Lakers. For example, why doesn’t he do what Oklahoma did, and front the post and try to take the ball out of Gasol’s hands? Why not double Kobe on the pick and roll, and switch? Maybe he’s hoping to win both games in Utah and make a major adjustment to catch the opponent off guard in Game 5 (like Phil Jackson does)
Either way It just feels like Sloan has made it too easy for the Lakers..
J M says
AK47 is rusty.
However, I expect the Jazz to win Game 3 and the Lakers to steal Game 4.
report on espn.com re artest tweeting negative comments about phil jackson. check it out.
Watching the Cavs-Celts…
At some point when a guy is in a groove like Lebron is in the first quarter shouldn’t you give him a hard foul, help him to his feet and wink at him?
D@#% LeBron with 21 points in the first quarter in Boston, scored more points than the whole Celts team. I wonder if the elbow feels a little better with the time off.
at the half, 17 cavs freethrows vs. 8 celts freethrows, bron w/ 0 fouls while kg, perkins and sheed 2 each, and this is in boston.
I desperately need someone to explain to me that I’m just imagining the whole pro-cavs refs thing. like how I imagined seeing foam fingers raining down to the floor at staples during the xmas game. arrg…
So I guess the elbow wasn’t hurting so much after all?
Maybe I’m “spoiled” from having Kobe on my team, but I can’t help feeling a bit of contempt for a supposed star who plays up their injuries as much as Lebron did with the elbow. Either you’re severely injured or your not, but don’t milk it like that. Real greatness does not look for excuses because it doesn’t need excuses. It gets back up, spits out the blood and the loose teeth, and keeps fighting until it’s proven everyone wrong.
Lebron keeps proving my worst expectations about him right, and that more than anything else bothers me about him. He acts just like the primadonna I wish he wasn’t, and aside form everything else that’s irritating about that, how on earth am I supposed to have any sort of respect at all for a man who’s at least three times my size, but far more squeamish about pain than I have ever been?
Ron should spend more time in the gym working on his shooting and less time tweeting like a bird.
What’s wrong with putting the cart before the horse if the horse can push?
We haven’t done a whole lot yet – like someone said, only what we did in the last series – and I think for some reason (because of the last 2 years) we feel comfortable with the Jazz. I hope the players aren’t as complacent as their fans (*cough* me) are.
Interesting pro Jazz post Darius, your writing techniques are a good read always. I believe we can ‘steal’ a game at ESA in Utah, and be up 3-1 on our home court, for the final win of the series. 22 hours to go…
Because horses can use their full strength when pulling, as opposed to when they push at something… it makes it easier to get the cart up steep hills.
I am all about over-extending metaphors. 🙂
My my, how a week or so changes everything! Everyone was just saying how these Lakers just “don’t got it” this year. And now it is a forgone conclusion that the Jazz will be swept?
Remember one thing, this is the Jazz team which destroyed the Nuggets in the last round. The Nuggets who almost beat us last year during out championship run, and who kicked our butts this year during the regular season.
This Jazz team is quite talented, and despite the “dominance” in the first 2 games, the Lakers could have lost BOTH on their home court. In the first game the Lakers were actually down 4 points late in the 4th quarter, and in this last game the Jazz hung around all night and then cut the Lakers lead to 4 with like 5 minutes left in the game.
Don’t write these Jazz off just yet, and don’t say that the Lakers are really back now. Things may change tomorrow, if the Lakers don’t stay focused.
The Suns bench is absolutely wrecking the Spurs. If we make it past Utah, the Suns bench will be our biggest obstacle towards getting to the Finals.
Off topic but in case you haven’t seen this…
Both economics professors, Schmidt at William & Mary and Berri at Southern Utah University, the two previously co-authored a book called The Wages of Wins, a look at how payroll and other statistics affect competitive balance and winning in sports. But it’s their new research that’s likely to attract attention. According to their findings:
• Phil Jackson may actually be a genius. NBA players improve their stats when they play for Jackson, an indication that he’s more than the beneficiary of having coached Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant – he knows what he’s doing.
The Dude Abides says
21. I came over to FB&G just now for the sole purpose of commenting on the Phoenix bench. They are obliterating San Antonio’s starting five, or at least the starting five with Hill instead of Jefferson.
Goran Dragic = Gorram Magic in this quarter…
im with you on that. dragic is just killing them.
i thought he was pretty good, but….wow
Ugh…the Spurs are getting worked. The Suns only shot 35% in the 1st half and are killing them. Dragic has 20 pts in the 4th Q? 8 of 8? Most starters on the bench for PHX? Crap. Getting past the Jazz won’t be our only problem.
I, too, came on just to make sure someone else is watching Dragic absolutely destroy the Spurs.
20 points in the fourth quarter!
I hope Sasha takes some notes from his countryman
Gentry seems to have found a fatal flaw in the Spurs D, that high pick that causes the switch, they are running it everytime down. Why hasn’t Pop adjusted?
Edit: Make that 23!
I must say, if we play the Suns, I am scared of what their bench is going to do to ours…oh lord….lol
Hate to be the one to say it… but RonRon being RonRon is the best thing for him and the team. Remember when he was in a rut to start the year shooting? He went on Kimmel in little shorts and that got him shooting straight again… enough to where he led the Lakers this season in three point percentage. Artest thrives on adversity… and he just stirred the pot and possibly straightened his shot out in the process. Lets see what happens the rest of playoffs from here on out with his outside shot.
The Suns just killed the Spurs with a simple high pick and roll. Dragic would have the ball at the top of the arc, with Frye setting a pick on his left. Dragic would use the pick, either Tim Duncan would switch onto him, or Dragic would have an open three. If Duncan switched, Dragic just backed it out, let his teammates spread the floor, blew past Duncan one-on-one, and finished at the rim.
Maybe it’s due to Duncan’s age, but I think the only strategy the Spurs could’ve used to combat this would have been to have Duncan hedge hard and force Dragic to keep dribbling while Tony Parker had time to recover. Instead, Duncan hedged softly and let Dragic just pick him apart.
20, Last time I checked, the transitive property didn’t apply to NBA teams. Just because Team A beats Team B and Team B beats Team C doesn’t imply that Team A beats Team C. I agree with you that Utah won’t be an easy out, but not for the reasons you cite. Indeed, Boston has shown us that a series can completely change in a single quarter, but our advantages against Utah aren’t advantages that you can game-plan against. In the words of Charles Barkley, “they ain’t gettin any taller before the next game.”
lil' pau says
re: the Dragic talk:
Fear not, Laker fans: this is what is known as an ‘outlier’. There’s a reason Suns fans refer to Dragic as ‘Tragic’– namely, he’s terrible. I’ve seen Smush score 12 in a quarter, heard ‘Kwame’ chants echoing through Staples, seen Slava drain 6 straight shots…. this is ‘every dog must have his day’ made manifest.
Frye, Barbosa, JRich, etc… those are the role players to worry about. Game three just got a lot more urgent as Phx looks like they’re going to be resting starting Sunday…
Kurt gets a mention on Ron Artest’s Twitter!
“One guy named Kurt Helin said I’m not a fan of my coach. I just said it’s weird to here things from media first.
about 4 hours ago via mobile web”
Well, we know that Artest reads Kurt’s blog now, I wonder if he ever comes over here, to Kurt’s old digs? Yeah, PJ and the media…
Funky Chicken says
lil’ pau, you are probably correct, but if Dragic has a game like this in him against the likes of Tony Parker, what’s he going to do against Jordan Farmar?
My larger concern is the lack of rest in between series if Phoenix closes this thing out in game 4 (which looks like a sure thing at this point) and the Lakers revert to form and come up empty on the road. Our guys are great on the road when it is a must-win, but I don’t get the sense that anyone feels that way about game 3.
But again, I think that the TNT guys (Smith & Barkley) are the wisest analysts on tv, and Kenny is fond of saying how the playoffs are all about matchups. Phoenix just owns the Spurs right now, but I’m not so sure they would have done that to Dallas, and I really don’t think they’ll do this to the Lakers. By contrast, I think Utah is a fabulous matchup for the Lakers, whereas OKC was much tougher, as Denver would have been if they got out of the first round.
On this last issue (matchups), I think the Finals will be another interesting story. Cleveland has been the best team all year, but I don’t see them as the same threat that Orlando might be. Look at what Lebron did tonight to Boston, and ask yourself if you’ve ever seen him do that to the Lakers. With Ron and Kobe and two seven footers in the paint, I don’t think Lebron will dominate the game against LA; Lamar is a perfect foil for Jamison, and Shaq literally does not seem to be able to dunk any more. Orlando, by contrast, seemed to match up pretty well last year (they nearly got game 2 in LA, and required some out of this world clutch shooting by Fish to go down at home). That series could be a lot more difficult should we get that far….
The Suns’ bench concerns me too. I don’t like the idea of our benches going head to head. I loved Phil’s adjustment in Game 2: putting Kobe in with the bench instead of Luke. There is an offensive focal point, and they can just play off Kobe. I’m OK with Farmar and Brown in at the same time if Kobe is at the 3.
Off topic, but was reading a Rondo article at CNNSI, mentioning that he was the 21st pick (originally ours, went to PHX).
Now that prompted me to look at the 2006 draft and…
#25 Shannon Brown
That was kinda sorta interesting, I’m sure players remember and know this, and probably reason behind some of the 2nd unit ‘chemistry’ perhaps.
Don’t think we have another year with 3 players from the same draft, all in the first round. We have a few years with two, but even then it’s mostly 1st and 2nd rounds combined… (Sasha, Ariza; Bynum and Turiaf etc.)
37, I honestly don’t think our 2nd unit has chemistry issues; They’re just horrendous entry passers. Farmar and Brown are probably the two worst entry passers on our team, and the flow of the offense depends on their entering the ball into the post. Maybe it’s because they really really really want to jack up those contested 20 footers, but I also think it’s because they are hesitant to throw entry passes (how many times have we seen them turn the ball over on the entry pass?), and when they do throw them, they throw bad ones, forcing Gasol and Bynum to leave their good post position.
38 – can you explain why this seemingly simple act, the entry pass, seems to be beyond the capability of some players? is there more to it than throwing high or low to the outside hand, depending on if it’s to a big or a guard; or making a bounce pass with a bit of appropriate spin? is it often just a matter of picking up your dribble too soon, thus giving up passing lane options?
I think that’s an indicator of our success, and to a lesser extent what drove them.
kinda hard to trade down and stockpile picks when all you got are those at the bottom end.
and of course, we also lost a few picks for Pau Gasol.
on the year with 2,
how about 1996?
we got that guy named Derek Fisher, and another lesser heralded one named Bobe Kryant 😀 both went in the 1st round.
Anyone else getting some great chuckles reading the Celtics blogs and how a lot of their fans are blaming their game 3 annihilation on the refs?
Fear not, Laker fans: this is what is known as an ‘outlier’. There’s a reason Suns fans refer to Dragic as ‘Tragic’– namely, he’s terrible.
Maybe last year, but not anymore. Dragic has helped the Suns all year.
If the Lakers do play the Suns, one key will be how much the Suns get from Lopez. He is almost certainly going to be back.
As to possible matchups with ORL/CLE, the Lakers can certainly win, but they will be underdogs against either. Jameer Nelson is back for ORL, and CLE has more weapons than they did last year.
But first things first. I was rooting for SA last night because I wanted that series extended. This puts a little more pressure on the Lakers to win at least one game in Utah.
Anyone else getting some great chuckles reading the Celtics blogs
Only went to Jeff Clark’s, but yes. I was surprised people were blaming a 30-point blowout on David Stern.
He may have been bad in 2009, but he has helped PHX all year this year.
39, I think a lot of it is picking up their dribble too soon. The most common thing I see that they do is dribble over to the wing, pick up their dribble, then look to pass. When that happens, the defending guard has a chance to back off the dribbler and crowd the entry pass, causing Farmar or Brown to have to outlet back to the top of the key and try again, without ever having gotten the ball into the post. The key is to do it all in one motion so the defender doesn’t have time to sag off.
Either that or actually be a threat to hit a three, which at this point Brown and Farmar are not.
RE Dragic – Tom Haberstroh of Hoop Data, ESPN (and other places) noted on twitter that Goran’s points per minute this season were greater than John Salmons, Caron Butler, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson. This kid can play and he’s had a pretty good mentor over there in Phoenix (Nash). Gentry has really done a good job developing him by telling him to stay aggressive and instilling confidence in him.
42 is me. Forgot my name. Sorry, Darius.
@41 Kehn: Sounds like a lot of the fans on this site whenever we lose. lol.
@42 Anonymous: “This puts a little more pressure on the Lakers to win at least one game in Utah.”
Really? Against this collection of Jazz players. If we play with max effort, (which we definitely didn’t do in the first 2 games in our building) there’s no way we should lose a game in this series. Regardless of the venue.
Game preview is up.
48, I can almost guarantee that we will not get max effort, so your theorem is invalid.
Really? Against this collection of Jazz players.
Things can change in a hurry; ask the Celtics. Also, the Lakers split in Utah last year, with a stronger Laker team. I was hoping that the Lakers could get this done in 5 and SA/PHX would go 7. The second part of that scenario is now almost certrainly a no-go.